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Maharaja Pariksit Hears Srimad-Bhagavatam from Sukadev Gosvami

"Among the most intelligent of men was Maharaja Pariksit, the great king of the entire world, who was accidentally cursed by a brahmana to meet death from the bite of a serpent within seven days. The brahmana who cursed him was only a boy, yet he was very powerful, and because he did not know the importance of the great king, the boy foolishly cursed him to meet death within seven days. This was later lamented by the boy's father, whom the king had offended. When the king was informed of the unfortunate curse, he at once left his palatial home and went to the bank of the Ganges, which was near his capital, to prepare for his impending death. Because he was a great king, almost all the great sages and learned scholars assembled at the place where the king was fasting prior to leaving his mortal body. At last, Sukadeva Gosvami, the youngest contemporary saint, also arrived there, and he was unanimously accepted to preside at that meeting, although his great father was also present. The king respectfully offered Sukadeva Gosvami the principal seat of esteem and asked him relevant questions regarding his passing from the mortal world, which was to take place on the seventh day thenceforward. The great king, as a worthy descendant of the Pandavas, who were all great devotees, placed the following relevant inquiries before the great sage Sukadeva. "My dear sir, you are the greatest of the great transcendentalists, and therefore I submissively beg to ask you about my duties at this moment. I am just on the verge of my death. Therefore, what should I do at this critical hour? Please tell me, my lord--what should I hear, what should I worship, or whom should I remember now? A great sage like you does not stay at the home of a householder more than necessary, and therefore it is my good fortune that you have kindly come here at the time of my death. Please, therefore, give me your directions at this critical hour."

The great sage, having thus been pleasingly requested by the king, answered his questions authoritatively, for the sage was a great transcendental scholar and was also well equipped with godly qualities, since he was the worthy son of Badarayana, or Vyasadeva, the original compiler of the Vedic literature.

Sukadeva Gosvami said, "My dear king, your inquiry is very much relevant, and it is also beneficial for all people of all times. Such inquiries, which are the highest of all, are relevant because they are confirmed by the teachings of the vedanta-darsana, the conclusion of the Vedic knowledge, and are atmavit-sammatah; in other words, liberated souls, who have full knowledge of their spiritual identity, put forward such relevant inquiries in order to elucidate further information about the Transcendence." Nonetheless, all such gentlemen present themselves as great leaders of the people."

Science of Self-Realization, Chapter 1

"Maharaja Pariksit met Sukadeva Gosvami just a week before his death, and the King was perplexed as to what should be done before he was to pass on. Many other sages also arrived there, but no one could give him the proper direction. Sukadeva Gosvami, however, gave this direction to him as follows: "My dear King, if you want to be fearless in meeting your death next week (for actually everyone is afraid at the point of death), then you must immediately begin the process of hearing and chanting and remembering God." If one can chant and hear Hare Krsna and always remember Lord Krsna, then he is sure to become fearless of death, which may come at any moment."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2

"In the Fourth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Twenty-ninth Chapter, verse 40, the importance of hearing of the pastimes of the Lord is stated by Sukadeva Gosvami to Maharaja Pariksit: "My dear King, one should stay at a place where the great acaryas [holy teachers] speak about the transcendental activities of the Lord, and one should give aural reception to the nectarean river flowing from the moonlike faces of such great personalities. If someone eagerly continues to hear such transcendental sounds, then certainly he will become freed from all material hunger, thirst, fear and lamentation, as well as all illusions of material existence."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 10

"A short history of Maharaja Pariksit is that he was a very pious king, but unfortunately by some of his acts he was cursed by a brahmana boy to die within seven days. In those days if a brahmana should curse someone it would come true. They had the power to curse or give benediction.

So Pariksit understood that within a week he would have to die, and he prepared himself. He gave up his kingdom, entrusting it to his son, Maharaja Janamejaya, and he detached himself from the family and sat down on the banks of the Ganges near Delhi. It was not exactly the Ganges; it was actually the Yamuna. There, because he was a great emperor, many learned sages came.

Pariksit now inquired from all the great sages present there: "What is my duty? I am going to die within seven days; now what is my duty? You are all learned sages; please just prescribe for me." So someone said to practice yoga, some said to practice jnana, the cultivation of knowledge; there were different opinions. But at that time Sukadeva Gosvami entered the forest, and although Sukadeva was only sixteen, he was so learned and reputed that all the old sages, including his father, Vyasadeva, stood up to show him respect. He was so learned. So when he appeared, it was agreed. "Here is Sukadeva Gosvami. Let him decide what to do. We appoint him as our representative."

Sukadeva Gosvami was thus authorized to speak, and he was asked, "What is my duty? I am very fortunate that you have come in this momentous hour. Kindly tell me what is my duty."

Sukadeva Gosvami said, "All right, I shall explain to you the Srimad-Bhagavatam." Then everyone present agreed.

As the Bhagavatam was first spoken by Sukadeva Gosvami, it is therefore mentioned that as the parrot touches ripened fruit and it becomes even sweeter, so this Srimad-Bhagavatam, because it was touched first by Sukadeva Gosvami, has become still more tasteful."

Topmost Yoga System, Chapter 8

"The position of Maharaja Pariksit and Sukadeva Gosvami is unique. Maharaja Pariksit is the right person to hear about the transcendental pastimes of Krsna, and Sukadeva Gosvami is the right person to describe them. If such a fortunate combination is made possible, then krsna-katha immediately becomes revealed, and people may benefit to the highest possible degree from such a conversation.

This narration was presented by Sukadeva Gosvami when Maharaja Pariksit was prepared to give up his body, fasting on the bank of the Ganges. In order to assure Sukadeva Gosvami that by hearing krsna-katha he would not feel tired, Maharaja Pariksit expressed himself very frankly: "Hunger and thirst may give trouble to ordinary persons or to me, but the topics of Krsna are so nice that one can continue to hear about them without feeling tired because such hearing situates one in the transcendental position." It is understood that one must be very fortunate to hear about krsna-katha seriously, like Maharaja Pariksit. He was especially intent on the subject matter because he was expecting death at any moment. Every one of us should be conscious of death at every moment. This life is not at all assured; at any time one can die. It does not matter whether one is a young man or an old man. So before death takes place, we must be fully Krsna conscious.

At the point of his death, King Pariksit was hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam from Sukadeva Gosvami. When King Pariksit expressed his untiring desire to hear about Krsna, Sukadeva Gosvami was very pleased. Sukadeva was the greatest of all Bhagavata reciters, and thus he began to speak about Krsna's pastimes, which destroy all inauspiciousness in this Age of Kali. Sukadeva Gosvami thanked the King for his eagerness to hear about Krsna, and he encouraged him by saying, "My dear King, your intelligence is very keen because you are so eager to hear about the pastimes of Krsna." He informed Maharaja Pariksit that hearing and chanting of the pastimes of Krsna are so auspicious that the processes purifies the three varieties of men involved: he who recites the transcendental topics of Krsna, he who hears such topics, and he who inquires about Him. These pastimes are just like the Ganges water which flows from the toe of Lord Visnu: they purify the three worlds, the upper, middle and lower planetary systems."

Krsna Book, Introduction

"Sukadeva Gosvami imparted transcendental knowledge to Maharaja Pariksit during the remaining seven days of his life, and Maharaja Pariksit heard him properly, just like an ardent student. The effect of such a bona fide hearing and chanting of Srimad-Bhagavatam was equally shared by both the hearer and the chanter. Both of them were benefited. Out of the nine different transcendental means of devotional service to the Lord prescribed in the Bhagavatam, either all of them, or some of them or even one of them are equally beneficial if properly discharged. Maharaja Pariksit and Sukadeva Gosvami were serious performers of the first two important items, namely the process of chanting and the process of hearing, and therefore both of them were successful in their laudable attempt. Transcendental realization is attained by such serious hearing and chanting and not otherwise. There is a type of spiritual master and disciple much advertised in this age of Kali. It is said that the master injects spiritual force into the disciple by an electrical current generated by the master, and the disciple begins to feel the shock. He becomes unconscious, and the master weeps for his exhausting his store of so-called spiritual assets. Such bogus advertisement is going on in this age, and the poor common man is becoming the victim of such advertisement. We do not find such folk tales in the dealings of Sukadeva Gosvami and his great disciple Maharaja Pariksit. The sage recited Srimad-Bhagavatam in devotion, and the great King heard him properly. The King did not feel any shock of electrical current from the master, nor did he become unconscious while receiving knowledge from the master. One should not, therefore, become a victim of these unauthorized advertisements made by some bogus representative of Vedic knowledge. The sages of Naimisaranya were very respectful in hearing about Maharaja Pariksit because of his receiving knowledge from Sukadeva Gosvami by means of ardent hearing. Ardent hearing from the bona fide master is the only way to receive transcendental knowledge, and there is no need for medical performances or occult mysticism for miraculous effects. The process is simple, but only the sincere party can achieve the desired result."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 1:12:3 Purport

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.